Wendy Clark

Global CEO of dentsu international

The world needs YOU!

Authentic leaders are genuine, self-aware and transparent. Wendy Clark, Global CEO of dentsu international, encourages everyone to lead and to show up as the best version of themselves

Hello dentsu SSA! And thank you for the opportunity to connect with you. I’ve been at dentsu for a few months now and I’ve loved meeting new people all over the globe through virtual gatherings and online meetings. When circumstances allow, I look forward to meeting many of you in person.

Show up as your authentic self

One of the questions that I’ve received a lot since I started is how “Home Wendy” is different to “Work Wendy”. Of course the times in which we live mean the line between work and home life has, for most of us, become very blurred. But the simple answer is that I’m the same person in both settings. I always have been and, frankly, I really don’t feel like I have a choice in this. I find that I can only be the best leader, mom, friend, colleague, partner and citizen if I’m true to the values that I believe in across all walks of life.

Of course it’s not always easy for everyone to be authentic at all times. Prejudice and injustice make it challenging in many parts of the world. People may not feel confident or empowered enough to bring their true selves to work every day. But this is a tragedy we should not accept. The moment we start to self-edit and leave our authentic selves at home is the moment we need to start reassessing whether we’re in the right environment at all. And that’s why I’m committed to ensuring we create a culture at dentsu that celebrates our diversity, cherishes our differences and helps spark new ideas for our clients and society as a whole.

Make authenticity part of your strategy

You’ll often hear me say that leadership is the careful balance between hope and reality. Ensuring that our words are met by our actions is a hallmark of authentic leadership and one that we should all aspire to, particularly as we face a challenging business environment and significant societal disruption.

The same goes for brands. The pandemic has cast a powerful light on many companies. Consumers have punished those that have demonstrated a gap between what they say and what they do, or acted in their own interests rather than those of the people and communities they serve.

Our own CMO survey underlines the importance of brands pursuing strategies rooted in authenticity. For example, hyper-empathy is the #1 strategy demonstrated by ‘Frontier CMOs’, those leaders who are navigating uncertainty with confidence and direction. Hyper-empathy means the ability to understand consumers more deeply and update that knowledge in real time through first-party customer data, e-commerce/D2C strategies and increased investment in CRM. This requires a fundamental mindset shift from selling more products and services to creating more helpful consumer experiences at the moment when people most need them.

Hyper-transparency is also key, according to our survey, ensuring that all elements of how a brand operates stand up to external scrutiny, from ethical supply chains to employee wellbeing. The pandemic has acted as a crucible in which consumers have forged new expectations of ethical brand behaviour – these expectations are only going to increase as we move forward.

Putting consumer intelligence to work

For dentsu, more authentic brands require more human solutions. That’s why we’re so focused on putting consumer intelligence at the heart of everything we do, helping our clients win, keep and grow their best customers and increasing our positive impact on society. You’ll hear me talk more about this in the coming weeks and months. 

As we look ahead, the world needs more authentic leaders and authentic brands. If we focus on what makes us uniquely human and humane, if we bring all of that to our day jobs, and if we build that essence into our own businesses, we’ll make meaningful progress for ourselves, the brands we work with and society as a whole.